Eight national teams are left standing in the Gold Cup. The United States was the only one to win all three of its group-stage matches, which makes it the favorite heading into the knockout rounds.
The last three Gold Cup tournaments have finished with a championship match between the United States and rival Mexico. That's once again a distinct possibility with the two CONCACAF powerhouses on opposite sides of the bracket.
Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica highlight the group of teams hoping to prevent that matchup. It all starts with the quarterfinals, which are slated to begin on Saturday. Let's check out all the key viewing information, followed by predictions for each match.
|Date||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV||Live Stream|
|July 20||3:30 p.m.||Panama vs. Cuba||Fox Soccer||Fox Soccer 2Go|
|July 20||6:30 p.m.||Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago||Fox Soccer||Fox Soccer 2Go|
|July 21||4 p.m.||United States vs. El Salvador||Fox||Fox Soccer 2Go|
|July 21||7 p.m.||Honduras vs. Costa Rica||Fox Soccer||Fox Soccer 2Go|
For a complete list of remaining tournament fixtures, visit the Gold Cup's official site.
Panama vs. Cuba
Panama is the most dangerous sleeper heading into the quarterfinals. The Canaleros were the only team other than the United States to go unbeaten during group play. Their only blemish was a scoreless draw against Canada in the group finale. That's all they needed to earn the top spot in Group A.
What makes Panama a tough test is its compact, counterattacking approach. It takes care of its defensive third first and builds attacks off strong play at the back. The style forces opponents to showcase extreme patience to have success.
It's not a good matchup for Cuba. The only attacking success it had during the group stage came against an overmatched Belize squad. Expect Panama to take control of the match after halftime with the in-form Gabriel Torres providing the necessary offense.
Prediction: Panama 2, Cuba 0
Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Mexico dropped its tournament opener to Panama, leading to questions about the inexperienced group's chance to contend. El Tri bounced back nicely, however, with two straight wins to restore confidence and build some momentum heading into the knockout rounds.
Unsurprisingly, Marco Fabian has been leading the charge for Mexico. The 23-year-old rising star has scored in each of the three games so far. Much like Javier Hernandez when the squad is at full strength, there's a lot of pressure on Fabian to ensure success from El Tri.
Trinidad and Tobago is tough to predict. The Soca Warriors lost to Haiti but bounced right back to score a big win over Honduras. Depending on the form they bring to the pitch on Saturday, an upset isn't out of the question, but Mexico should survive and advance.
Prediction: Mexico 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1
United States vs. El Salvador
It's safe to say Landon Donovan's return to the national team has been a success. The veteran has been a constant force on the attack for the United States, both in terms of setting up teammates and adding to his national record goal total.
The Americans have also received key contributions from a wide array of less heralded players, though. Chris Wondolowski, Brek Shea and Sean Johnson have all stepped up at different moments to help the "B" team thrive.
Rodolfo Zelaya is the one player the United States must watch out for. He has the potential to become a major problem for the American back line, which has looked shaky at times. If the United States keeps him under control, it should move on.
Prediction: United States 3, El Salvador 1
Honduras vs. Costa Rica
This is toughest match of the quarterfinal round to predict. Both teams went through ups and downs during the group stage. Honduras won its first two games but then lost to Trinidad and Tobago. Costa Rica played the United States tough but only beat Belize 1-0.
Both sides are solid defensively. So with the wild swings in form and the defense-first mindset, a select few moments are going to decide the match. It leaves both teams with very little margin for error right from the opening whistle.
Ultimately, Honduras gets the slight edge because the Costa Rica attack has struggled to generate scoring chances over the past two matches. The Catrachos will post a shutout en route to the semifinals.
Prediction: Honduras 1, Costa Rica 0
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